Black Clover Season 2 Part 2 (Episodes 64-72) (Cert 12)

2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 215 minutes approx.

Release Date: June 1st 

A slightly different tact for this volume of Black Clover but not before some unfinished business from the last volume is settled up first. You may recall, members of the Black Bulls took a trip to the Forest of Witches to ask the Witch Queen is she will heal Asta’s damaged arms and possibly even hand over her magical stone the Clover Kingdom are collecting.

The Witch Queen does indeed oblige and heals Asta but in return, demands Vanessa, the Bulls’ resident witch/boozing MILF totty, stays in the Forest where she belongs. Vanessa refuses so using the black blood she suffused into Asta’s body to revive him, the Witch Queen activates Asta’s anti-magic, turning him into an anti-magic demon and turns him against his fellow mages, compelling him to kill them.

Quite the cliffhanger to end the last release and might have been a game changer for what has thus far been a solid but largely derivative shonen fantasy series. The potential for a magically controlled Asta vs. the rest of the Bulls showdown should be evident to anybody watching but, without spoiling anything, it sadly isn’t fully realised, lasting just one and half episodes.

It may not have rivalled say Naruto vs. Sasuke (or maybe this is being saved for Asta vs. Yuno later down the line) but there was some dramatic and action heavy mileage to be mined from it. Obviously, creator Yuki Tabata didn’t feel the same way and wanted to move on quickly, unless it was deliberately truncated for this anime adaptation. Either way, whilst the climax was never in question, ending with Asta learning the history of his anti-magic swords it is quite a bathetic one.

So, what is so important that we need to jump to the next major storyline? Well, we are kept waiting a little bit before this happens, diverting from the more serious material for a batch of episodes designed purely for comic effect. Betwixt these episodes is a recap chapter covering the progress thus far of the Clover Kingdom’s war against the Eye Of The Midnight Sun, ending with the warning that they are ready for round two.

But first, there is the annual Star Festival in which the Wizard King announces the rankings of the various Magic Knight guilds has earned the most stars. The Black Bulls are always last usually with a minus total, so Yami doesn’t bother to attend – except this year thanks to Asta, they rocket to second place behind Golden Dawn, the squad Yuno belongs to, upsetting the other guilds.

One in particular, the Crimson Lions, changes their captain from Fuegoleon Vermillion to his ferocious sister Mereoleona. When the Clover King announces the formation of the elite Royal Knights to combat the Midnight Eye, Mereoleona takes her squad for a hot springs training camp, inviting, or more accurately accosting, Asta, Yuno, Yami and Noelle, along with Charlotte Rosary and Sol Marron of the Blue Roses.

Regular readers will be aware that I’ve made numerous comparisons to Black Clover with many modern classic shonen staples like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. This mini-arc falls closest within the parameters of the former examples, mostly Naruto in its bawdy comedy involving the peeping of the ladies in the hot spring, and the displays of macho determination in completing the task at hand, which is to race to the spring which is situated at the top of a live volcano.

True to the conventions of shonen adventures, this turns into another moment of self-discovery for Asta, determined to win the race but being without magic means he can’t summon the protective mana his opponents can. But, he now has the Witch Queen’s black blood in him and he needs to learn how to harness this. As the saying goes, there is no time like the present but can the headstrong and rambunctious Asta control such a dangerous power?

Like earlier with the end of the Witch Queen arc, this proves a fleeting problem as the idea is more about the comedy of the bathing session in the hot springs than in Asta’s adapting to his new abilities. It is the lack of attention to the development of what will assuredly become a useful and recurring facet of Asta’s arsenal in the future that makes this series frustrating to watch. In comparing it to its predecessors, the similarities end on there, as they would take the time to establish such changes to their protagonist.

With the comedy being broad, predictable and lacking wit, not to mention the family safe censorship of the naked women, the payoff is hardly worth it anyway so why couldn’t the focus have been on the action instead? Most of the participants in the training session were faceless extras, leaving Yami, Yuno, Noelle, Charlotte, Sol, and Fuegoleon at least to provide some token opposition to the newly upgraded Asta.

Except this opportunity has been squandered as it appears the unruly shenanigans of the Bulls at the Star Festival, including a filler episode involving a food duel, was deemed worthy of more screen time than something that actually advances the story. To be fair, even the aforementioned classic shows were not immune to marking time with adjunct frippery, so maybe they are simply keeping an old tradition alive in doing this.

Having passed the 70 episode mark, one would expect to see substantial growth and improvement in the writing and general storytelling by now yet the signs are that this show is still trying to find its feet. Every now and then it takes a few leap forward and the future looks hopefully it is about to carve its own niche, something the episodes in this volume teeters on undoing.

Admittedly, you could do a lot worse than Black Clover, although this isn’t the strongest set they’ve put out. The upside is a new arc begins with the next volume and hopefully bringing with it improved and focused content.

 

Extras:

English Language Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD 2.0

English Subtitles

Disc One:

Page 64 Commentary

Disc Two:

Black Clover: A Chat Among Kings

Inside The Episode – Black Clover Highlights Eps 64, 76, 69 & 72

Page 72 Commentary

Clover Clips Special Edition

Textless Opening Song “Scribbled Pages”

Textless Closing Song “My Song My Days”

 

Rating – ** ½  

Man In Black

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